The Disciple…Thoughts, Rules & Plans

One of my greatest weaknesses in Football Manager terms is “sticking with it” in terms of a club. Now this is never down to being flaky or rage quitting when things get hard, but rather my overall interest in the multifaceted world of football. The wide variety of intriguing leagues, clubs and competitions always tempts me to go somewhere else. I’ve found that a “journeyman” save (I prefer the term “manager career” save) suits my temperament a lot more. As such, my save starting with the full release of FM18 will be a manager career save. First I want to outline my ground rules for the save and then delve into a bit more detail what exactly I will be doing.

Ground Rules

The basic principles are simple for me: I like to simulate a realistic approach to management in Football Manager, all the while of course keeping in mind that it’s a game with certain limitations.


At the beginning of my manager’s career, he will only have a certain amount of influence on the greater club staff. One cannot expect a new young manager to have full control over the club. As such, he will make the recruitment and hiring decisions only on his direct coaching staff. The highest-ranking club officials (director or president) will hire the sporting director, who in turn will hire all other staff members (e.g. scouts, youth department, medical staff, etc.). As my manager grows in stature and experience, he will gain increasing influence on the hiring of other staff members until he finally gains full hiring control later in life.


With the FM18 changes to scouting, the player search screen will only be used to see who is on the transfer- and loan lists. It will be up to my scouts to find the right players and my transfer decisions will be made solely upon these. The manager will have an influence in determining assignments to meet his recruitment philosophies. I will, as always, use attribute masking.


I will take control of the transfers, since I’ve always found that this area is one of the greatest issues within FM, with sporting directors making stupid and illogical buying decisions during negotiations. I will let my sporting director make offers for players, which I can then veto if need be. I will also take full advantage of the set transfer- and wage budgets. Finances are a bit dicey in Football Manager, but balancing the books is not really the task of a manager in real life. This is another area where game limitations come into play and I will do my best to not ruin a club financially.

Club Moves:

When my manager moves clubs (especially when done by choice rather than by sacking), the choices will be logical. Much like in real life, it will need to be a move up (either to a bigger club or league) and accompanied with an increase in salary. Income is a huge deciding factor when changing employers and football management is no different in that regard. I have a career path mapped out for my manager, but as in real life things can change based on circumstances. He will not move clubs every 1-3 seasons, simply for the sake of moving clubs. It can certainly happen that he lands at a good club and stays for 5-10 seasons (or more), but he might have a few 1-2 season stints until he gets that great job. This is the main reason why I don’t use the term “journeyman”, but rather “manager career”. I know it’s just semantics, but it is an important distinction for me.

That concludes the basic ground rules of the save. Now I’ll let you in on more details about what I have planned.

The Plan

This save is titled “The Disciple”, which obviously alludes to an almost religious/cult like following of the teachings/philosophies of certain individuals. The two managers seen in the thumbnail are Zdenek Zeman and Peter Bosz. Their influences on my manager (which will be detailed more in the “Prologue” post) are mainly tactical, but in Bosz’s case they also relate to youth recruitment and development.

The tactical similarities between the two are as follows:

  • Use 4-3-3 formation: neither one deviates much (if at all) from this formation
  • High- and intense pressing: this is a core tactical principle for these managers
  • Play attacking football: another key facet, though this does not necessarily mean “attacking” mentality in FM, but rather creating an attack minded system
  • Fullbacks add width: playing with “wide” fullbacks is an absolute must
  • No pragmatism: neither manager is known for “managing a lead” in the sense of Mourinho. Even when the situation might warrant a more conservative approach, they push forward.

The above tactical notes will always be present in my manager’s sides and approach to the game. I won’t be 100% simulating/recreating a Zeman or Bosz system as defined by player roles. Bosz is more dogmatic in terms of player roles than Zeman, the latter often adapted the roles of his system to suit his best players. An example of this would be that during his first tenure at Roma, Zeman had a young Totti work as a playmaker from a wing position that sat very narrow, whereas during one of his Pescara stints he had Veratti pushing forward as a playmaker from the DM position. At Roma De Rossi was in the DM slot and was not pushing forward with the same purpose as Veratti. Bosz on the other hand pretty much always has the same roles performing the same tasks. My manager will let players dictate the roles along the Zeman guidelines.

Young players will always play a key role in his teams, much as one sees with Peter Bosz. Finances dictate some of this philosophy, but it’s also in the DNA of Bosz and the “Ajax model” of youth development will be seen throughout the save.

To play an effective high-intensity pressing game, fitness and fitness attributes are as important as determination, work rate and teamwork. Zeman is well known for his strong beliefs in fitness training. Therefore, fitness training will be a constant part of my manager’s monthly training plans.

Now you’ve seen my ground rules and overall plans. Next let’s take a quick look at the main character of this save.

The Disciple

After much deliberation and some inspiration gained from a conversation with Mr. Guido Merry (a.k.a. Strikerless), I am going to the Balkans to find that eccentric, attacking minded and spirited young manager of the future. His name is Darko Rodic.

Rodic Playing Stats

Born in Split, Croatia in 1983, above is his relatively average and unspectacular playing career, which was more than a bit injury plagued. The key influences are his time at Ajax and then his last few seasons at Pescara, where his manager was Zdenek Zeman

Rodic Coaching Stats

Ending his playing career at 28, he joined Zeman’s coaching team at Pescara and then Roma. Following Zeman’s sacking, he returned to the Netherlands and was hired onto the coaching staff of Peter Bosz at Vitesse. When his mentor Zeman was hired at FC Lugano in Switzerland, Darko had to join him there. Following yet another short Zeman-tenure, Rodic got a call from Peter Bosz to join him at Ajax. Despite Bosz asking him to come to Dortmund, Darko felt it was time to go out on his own and use all he had learned from Zeman and Bosz. His story will begin shortly.

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